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UA boots last game of regular schedule
Trevor Ezell (from left), Arkansas first baseman, Dave Van Horn, Arkansas head coach, and Harrison Heffley, student assistant watch from the dugout in the 5th inning vs LSU Saturday, May 11, 2019, at Baum-Walker Stadium in Fayetteville.
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Going 2 for 4 in baseball is often reason to celebrate.
But Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn said that was the reason the No. 4 Razorbacks suffered a 6-1 loss to No. 19 Texas A&M on Saturday at Blue Bell Park in their regular-season finale. Despite the loss, the University of Arkansas was awarded the SEC West division crown and No. 2 seed in the SEC Tournament by virtue of Mississippi State losing 10-8 to South Carolina on Saturday.
"There's four phases of the game: base running, pitching, defense and hitting," Van Horn said. "The base running was OK. The pitching was good. The other two were not so good."
That's putting it mildly.
Four errors -- two on potential inning-ending double play opportunities -- and the inability to deliver hits in key situations spoiled a strong pitching effort from starter Connor Noland (2-4) and four relief pitchers.
Arkansas (40-15, 20-10 SEC) left the bases loaded in the fourth inning and had at least one runner in scoring position in the third and fifth only to come up empty against A&M right-handed starter Christian Roa.
Even more costly were defensive lapses that opened the way for the Aggies (26-19-1, 16-13-1) to extend innings and score four unearned runs.
"I thought our pitching did an outstanding job," Van Horn said. "We didn't play defense. Defense hurt us."
The fifth inning was the most painful.
Staked to a 1-0 lead on Casey Martin's first-inning home run, Noland cruised through the first four innings. He threw only 33 pitches and had allowed just two hits.
In the fifth, he gave up singles to Mikey Hoeher, Logan Foster and Jonathan Ducoff as A&M tied the score.
That prompted Van Horn to bring in junior reliever Cody Scroggins to face No. 9 hitter Ty Coleman.
After fouling off four consecutive pitches, Coleman hit what appeared to be a tailor-made double play ball to shortstop. Instead, the ball squirted under Martin's glove into left-center field.
The error enabled Foster to score from second base and Ducoff to reach third. Ducoff then scored on a Braden Shewmake sacrifice fly to right field.
Just like that, the Razorbacks trailed 3-1.
"Our starting pitcher gave us a tremendous job. A reliever comes in and immediately gets a double play ball. We should be in the dugout," Van Horn said. "[Then] it's 1-1 going into the sixth, and it's anybody's ballgame.
"That was rough right there. They punch in two more runs. That's what happens."
A botched double play opportunity by third baseman Jacob Nesbit led to another A&M sacrifice fly in the sixth. More defensive issues -- a passed ball and throwing error -- enabled the Aggies to add two more runs in the eighth.
Meanwhile, Arkansas' offense -- which had struggled in a 6-2 loss Friday night -- could not compensate for the defensive miscues.
The Razorbacks left runners on the corners in the third inning, but the most frustrating missed opportunity was in the fourth.
Heston Kjerstad was hit by a pitch leading off. Jack Kenley singled and Casey Opitz reached when A&M misplayed his safety squeeze bunt, which loaded the bases with one out. Jacob Nesbit popped up in foul ground and Trevor Ezell grounded right back to the pitcher as the opportunity fizzled.
"We've got to put the bat on the ball," Van Horn said. "We had a one-run lead, bases loaded and one out, and we don't score."
The frustration was just beginning. Martin singled to center field to lead off the fifth and stole second, but Matt Goodheart, Dominic Fletcher and Kjerstad all struck out. The Razorbacks were retired in order over the remaining four innings.
"Up and down the lineup we had opportunities and we didn't take advantage of it," Van Horn said. "I'm going to say their pitching is very good and on our end we didn't do a very good job."
SOUTH CAROLINA 10, MISSISSIPPI STATE 8
South Carolina (28-27, 8-22 SEC) used a three-run fifth inning and a four-run seventh inning Saturday to claim a victory over Mississippi State (45-11, 20-10) at Dudy Noble Field in Starkville, Miss., which allowed the University of Arkansas to claim the SEC West division title and No. 2 overall seed in the SEC Tournament.
The Gamecocks scored their three runs in the fifth inning on RBI singles from George Callil, TJ Hopkins and Luke Ber-ryhill to extend their lead to 4-1. Berryhill hit a three-run home run in the seventh inning — his first of the season — and Wes Clarke added an RBI double to right field to push the lead to 8-1.
But the Bulldogs rallied, getting an RBI single from Jake Mangum and an RBI double from Tanner Allen in the bottom of the seventh to cut the lead to 8-3. An-drew Eyester hit a two-run home run for South Carolina in the top of the eighth for a 10-3 lead, but Mississippi State got a two-run single from Marshall Gilbert, as well as RBI singles from Jordan Westburg and Allen to cut the lead to 10-7. Luke Hancock added an RBI single in the ninth inning to set the final score.
UALR 13, ARKANSAS STATE 9
The University of Arkansas at Little Rock (28-26, 18-11 Sun Belt Conference) outlasted Arkansas State University (26-29, 11-19) at Tomlinson Stadium-Kell Field in Jonesboro in a game that featured a combined 22 runs on 31 hits with 17 runners left on base.
After the Red Wolves scored two runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to take a 3-2 lead, the Trojans took control of the game by scoring three runs in the sixth and eight more in the seventh. A two-out, two-run double down the left-field line by Christian Reyes was the big hit for UALR in the sixth, while Troy Alexander and Riley Pittman had two-run doubles in the seventh.
Arkansas State tried to rally with a six-run bottom of the seventh inning -- which included a three-run home run by Tyler Duncan, his fifth of the season, and a two-out, two-run single by Drew Tipton.
Pittman was 4 for 6 with 2 runs scored and 2 RBI, while Ryan Benavidez was 3 for 6 with 1 run scored and 1 RBI. Six other players had two hits each for UALR, which clinched the No. 3 seed in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament after Friday's games.
Duncan, Jaylon Deshazier and Jake Jablonski had two hits each to lead Arkansas State.
Reliever Zach Ours (6-1) earned the victory for the Trojans after pitching 1 2/3 scoreless innings. Nate Alberius (5-5) took the loss after allowing all 13 UALR runs -- 9 of them earned -- on 19 hits with 1 walk and 2 strikeouts over 7 innings.
CENTRAL ARKANSAS 4, LAMAR 3
The University of Central Arkansas (29-25, 19-11 Southland Conference) fell behind Lamar 2-0 after four innings on Saturday, but used a three-run eighth inning to claim a series victory at Vincent-Beck Stadium in Beaumont, Texas.
The Cardinals (18-36, 9-21) scored the game's first run in the bottom of the first inning when Avery George, who singled to start the inning, scored when Cole Coker grounded into a double play. The lead grew to 2-0 in the fourth inning when JC Correa scored on Logan Berlof's single to left field.
The Bears cut the lead in half in the sixth inning when Beau Orlando singled to right-center field to score Josh Ragan, who reached base on a fielder's choice. Orlando added a two-run triple to left-center field in the eighth inning and scored on Tanner Wiley's single to left field, which gave UCA a 4-2 lead. Lamar's final run came on Reese Durand's sacrifice fly that scored Berlof.
Jay Anderson was 3 for 5 with a run scored from the leadoff spot, while Orlando and Wiley had two hits each for the Bears, who clinched the No. 2 seed in next week's Southland Conference Tournament by virtue of their series victory over Southeastern Louisiana. UCA will face No. 7 seed and defending tournament champion Northwestern (La.) State at noon Central on Wednesday at Constellation Field in Sugar Land, Texas.
The No. 2 seed is the highest ever for the Bears, who won the tournament in 2013 as a No. 7 seed and have played in the championship game on two other occasions. UCA's 19 conference victories are its most since moving to the Southland Conference in 2007.
At a glance
SEC BASEBALL TOURNAMENT
at Hoover (Ala.) Metropolitan Stadium
NOTE All games televised on SEC Network, except the championship game, which will air on ESPN2.
All times Central
GAME 1 Texas A&M vs. Florida, 9:30 a.m.
GAME 2 Mississippi vs. Missouri, 30 minutes after completion of Game 1
GAME 3 Auburn vs. Tennessee, 4:30 p.m.
GAME 4 LSU vs. South Carolina, 30 minutes after completion of Game 3
GAME 5 Georgia vs. Game 1 winner, 9:30 a.m.
GAME 6 Arkansas vs. Game 2 winner, 30 minutes after completion of Game 5
GAME 7 Vanderbilt vs. Game 3 winner, 4:30 p.m.
GAME 8 Mississippi State vs. Game 4 winner, 30 minutes after completion of Game 7
GAME 9 Game 5 loser vs. Game 6 loser, 9:30 a.m.
GAME 10 Game 7 loser vs. Game 8 loser, 30 minutes after completion of Game 9
GAME 11 Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner, 4:30 p.m.
GAME 12 Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner, 30 minutes after completion of Game 11
GAME 13 Game 9 winner vs. Game 11 loser, 3 p.m.
GAME 14 Game 10 winner vs. Game 12 loser, 30 minutes after completion of Game 13
GAME 15 Game 13 winner vs. Game 11 winner, noon
GAME 16 Game 14 winner vs. Game 12 winner, 30 minutes after completion of Game 15
GAME 17 Game 15 winner vs. Game 16 winner, 2 p.m.
Sports on 05/19/2019
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